While the vast majority of the city’s political figures have flocked to leading mayoral candidates Christine Quinn, Bill de Blasio and Bill Thompson, John Liu has quietly assembled a seemingly unlikely coalition in southern Brooklyn.
Even though he’s placing a distant fifth in the polls and has been battered by a serious fund-raising scandal, a pair of assemblymen and two top City Council candidates are soldiering onward on Mr. Liu’s behalf.
“When you listen to the people, when you listen in the schools, when you listen in the senior centers, when you listen in the houses, you find you hear something very different than what these polls are saying,” boomed Assemblyman Bill Colton yesterday at a small Bensonhurst park, as Mr. Liu, the comptroller, stood at his side. “Don’t listen to polls, don’t listen to the propaganda that is put forth by those who want to keep power for themselves.”
At the event, Mr. Colton and Mark Treyger, a former Colton staffer running for a Coney Island-based City Council seat with a mass of labor and official endorsements, both announced their support for Mr. Liu, who in turn backed Mr. Treyger.
In their remarks, Mr. Colton and Mr. Treyger cited their long-standing ties to Mr. Liu, whom they said, as a councilman, had lent his assistance to quell racially-motivated violence at a local school even though Mr. Liu served in Queens.
Bensonhurst Assemblyman Peter Abbate has also bucked the county organization to endorse Mr. Liu. And in a district further east, where conservative Russian-Americans now dominate, City Council hopeful and district leader Ari Kagan, a former Liu employee, has enthusiastically backed him as well.
Beyond simply liking Mr. Liu personally, the slew of pols may also have another aim: earning support from the burgeoning Asian populations in each of their districts. Mr. Abbate and Mr. Colton’s districts, roping in parts of Bensonhurst, are 51 and 32 percent Asian respectively, according to Census data. The district Mr. Treyger is seeking to represent is a quarter Asian. Even Mr. Kagan’s district, predominately Russian and Orthodox Jewish, has a 14 percent chunk of Asian voters.
“John Liu is enormously popular in Chinese-American and Asian neighborhoods. It is a community notoriously difficult to poll,” Michael Tobman, a consultant who works with Messers. Colton, Treyger and Kagan, told Politicker. Still, he stressed that personal ties had superseded political motivations in the cases of their endorsements. “Whatever the numbers are, they’re low.”
By endorsing council candidates like Mr. Treyger and Mr. Kagan, Mr. Liu benefits, too. Both candidates may provide crucial inroads into non-Asian communities, such as Mr. Kagan’s Russian-American bloc.
Mr. Liu, however, brushed off the suggestion that his endorsements were bound to any kind of political calculus.
“It’s because of these particular individuals I have worked with for a very long time,” he explained.